Unlikely Warriors tells the story of British and Irish volunteers before, during and after their fight for democracy and against fascism in Spain.
These accounts are largely in their own words with Richard Baxell keeping his lively and accessible commentary to a minimum.
The narrative surges through the fighting in Spain from the Battle for Madrid to ultimate defeat at the Ebro.
At the book's core is a chapter on the medical services who fought their own battles to save lives under the most appalling conditions, frequently under bombardment and constantly running out of supplies.
Yet the need to minimise loss of life and the effect of wounds led to several ground-breaking innovations in medical science.
Baxell effectively defuses some issues of debate over the years such as Orwell's book Homage To Catalonia and Ken Loach's film Land And Freedom and whether or not writer Laurie Lee even fought in the International Brigades.
In addition to the 2,500 British and Irish volunteers who fought on the republican side, the book deals too with those who fought for Franco. Only a handful came from Great Britain, the vast majority being recruited by General O'Duffy, former head of the Irish police force.
Their inept performance at Jarama led to Franco's General Yague, commander of the Spanish Foreign Legion, recommending the dissolution of the Irish Bandera.
The story of the volunteers' attempts, successful or unsuccessful, to enlist in the British armed forces to fight fascism in the second world war is compressed into the final section of the book, including some discussion of the volunteers who spied for the Soviet Union both during and after Spain.
There follows an all too brief account of the International Brigade Association's practical support for republicans after 1945 and some information about what they did with the rest of their lives.
I would have welcomed a longer epilogue addressing the impact of their time in Spain on the volunteers' later lives.
Those of us privileged like the author to have met and known a number of the survivors know that Spain always remained in their hearts. The time they spent there was proudly remembered by many as the most important of their lives.